Samsung's first consumer SSD to ship without DRAM is the 980 NVMe

Shawn Knight

Posts: 13,429   +132
Staff member
Something to look forward to: The new Samsung 980 NVMe SSD utilizes the NVMe Host Memory Buffer (HMB) feature, a direct memory access capability of PCI Express, that lets the SSD use system memory instead of having to bring its own. This cuts down on the cost to manufacture the drive, savings which are passed along to the buyer, but more on that in a bit.

Samsung has introduced its first consumer solid-state drive that doesn’t use DRAM. Samsung says HMB is coupled with other tech like its sixth-gen V-NAND and Intelligent TurboWrite 2.0 as well as an optimized controller and firmware to minimize the performance penalty of not including dedicated DRAM.

Throttling shouldn’t be an issue as Samsung has implemented “advanced thermal designs” alongside improved power efficiency to make overheating a non-issue. This is likely more of a concern in laptops where components are crammed into a tiny space, but overheating is a real concern in desktops, too, if adequate cooling isn't used.

The 980 NVMe 1TB drive boasts sequential read and write speeds of up to 3,500 and 3,000 MB/s, with random reads and writes rated as high as 500K IOPS and 480K IOPS, respectively. Speeds do drop off as capacity decreases, however, so be mindful of that when considering a drive.

Samsung’s new 980 NVMe SSD is available in capacities of 250GB, 500GB and 1TB with MSRPs set at $49.99, $69.99 and $129.99, respectively.

Permalink to story.

 

psycros

Posts: 3,558   +4,336
Soooo...a hardware-based RAMdrive controller? Hmm. Wasn't sharing system RAM with onboard GPUs about the worst thing to happen to PCs in the early 2000's?
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,718   +2,024
TechSpot Elite
Passing the savings on to consumers, eh? You can be damn sure that they're not passing all of it.

People already complain about their browsers using too much RAM so this will probably fly like a Led Zeppelin. You'd be surprised how many people are still running with less than 8GB of RAM and some of those PCs have IGPs that take another 1.5GB-2GB from that.

The pricing isn't even all that good because after the currency conversion calculation, it's just over $164CAD for a 1TB model. With similar performance numbers, I could pick-up at Western Digital Black SN750 1TB for $170CAD or an XPG GAMMIX S11 1TB for $145CAD and I'd just rather not have my NVMe drive eat away at my system RAM.

Samsung SSD 980 1TB ($164CAD):
Sequential Read: 3.5GB/s
Sequential Write: 3.0GB/s

Western Digital Black SN750 1TB ($170CAD):
Sequential Read: 3.43GB/s
Sequential Write: 3.0GB/s

XPG GAMMIX Gaming SSD S11 Pro Series 1TB ($145CAD):
Sequential Read: 3.5GB/s
Sequential Write: 3.0GB/s

Samsung is making the mistake that many greedy brands have made in the past when selling items that are essentially a commodity. They've priced themselves out of competition and those brands tend to vanish. I don't think that Samsung will vanish because they actually manufacture the RAM used but they wont be sustainable with gimmicks like these. There's a reason why I have never purchased a Samsung SSD and it's because I buy according to spec and Samsung has always been far too expensive compared to competing items with the same (and sometimes better) performance.

In this case, sure, they brought their prices down but there's a caveat to that in the way that this NVMe drive drains your system RAM like a silicon vampire. Even if it's not a lot of RAM used, the fact that competing drives don't use system RAM makes it a serious negative, especially to the uninitiated.

Now, one could definitely make the case that most people haven't ever heard of XPG and that's a fair critique because it's probably true. On the other hand though, who has never heard of Western Digital or thinks of it as an "off-brand"? The answer to that is easy, it's a resounding "NO-BODY!". There are only two extant brands that have been synonymous with reliable computer data storage over the past thirty years and while Samsung's SpinDrives have proven themselves reliable in the past, they've never approached the brand pedigrees of Western Digital and Seagate. Samsung just doesn't seem to realise that they're not considered to be the premium name here. I would say that even Intel would be more recognisable in the production of storage devices than Samsung. When people think of Samsung, they tend to think of TVs and home appliances.

There are enough Samsung fanboys around that these SSDs might be successful but WITH better options out there, I would say that for most people:
511il6.jpg
 
Last edited:

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,718   +2,024
TechSpot Elite
Will this ssd wear down faster? I would be very curious to know how much faster if so.
I don't see why this would wear down faster. It's still the same kind of RAM used in other SSDs.
Soooo...a hardware-based RAMdrive controller? Hmm. Wasn't sharing system RAM with onboard GPUs about the worst thing to happen to PCs in the early 2000's?
Yup, and for some reason, Samsung seems blissfully unaware. Nah, they just think that having the name "Samsung" on an SSD means more than having the name "Western Digital", which is just wrong of course. :laughing:
 

texasrattler

Posts: 1,189   +559
Passing the savings on to consumers, eh? You can be damn sure that they're not passing all of it.

People already complain about their browsers using too much RAM so this will probably fly like a Led Zeppelin. You'd be surprised how many people are still running with less than 8GB of RAM and some of those PCs have IGPs that take another 1.5GB-2GB from that.

The pricing isn't even all that good because after the currency conversion calculation, it's just over $164CAD for a 1TB model. With similar performance numbers, I could pick-up at Western Digital Black SN750 1TB for $170CAD or an XPG GAMMIX S11 1TB for $145CAD and I'd just rather not have my NVMe drive eat away at my system RAM.

Samsung SSD 980 1TB ($164CAD):
Sequential Read: 3.5GB/s
Sequential Write: 3.0GB/s

Western Digital Black SN750 1TB ($170CAD):
Sequential Read: 3.43GB/s
Sequential Write: 3.0GB/s

XPG GAMMIX Gaming SSD S11 Pro Series 1TB ($145CAD):
Sequential Read: 3.5GB/s
Sequential Write: 3.0GB/s

Samsung is making the mistake that many greedy brands have made in the past when selling items that are essentially a commodity. They've priced themselves out of competition and those brands tend to vanish. I don't think that Samsung will vanish because they actually manufacture the RAM used but they wont be sustainable with gimmicks like these. There's a reason why I have never purchased a Samsung SSD and it's because I buy according to spec and Samsung has always been far too expensive compared to competing items with the same (and sometimes better) performance.

In this case, sure, they brought their prices down but there's a caveat to that in the way that this NVMe drive drains your system RAM like a silicon vampire. Even if it's not a lot of RAM used, the fact that competing drives don't use system RAM makes it a serious negative, especially to the uninitiated.

Now, one could definitely make the case that most people haven't ever heard of XPG and that's a fair critique because it's probably true. On the other hand though, who has never heard of Western Digital or thinks of it as an "off-brand"? The answer to that is easy, it's a resounding "NO-BODY!". There are only two extant brands that have been synonymous with reliable computer data storage over the past thirty years and while Samsung's SpinDrives have proven themselves reliable, they've never approached the brand pedigrees of Western Digital and Seagate. Samsung just doesn't seem to realise that they're not considered to be the premium name here. I would say that even Intel would be more recognisable in the production of storage devices than Samsung. When people think of Samsung, they tend to think of TVs and home appliances.

There are enough Samsung fanboys around that these SSDs might be successful but better options out there, I would say that for most people:
511il6.jpg
Just to be clear, Samsung dont make hard drives anymore. They got rid of that and only focus on SSDs and newer tech.
They were never known for storage drives like WD until SSDs became mainstream. They became the best or one of the best at it. WD didnt have great SSDs in the beginning but do now and also now own SanDisk another good storage company.

While no one likes over paying for anything, there are other companies that you can by online from Amazon who arent known like Samsung but have a good track record. In todays world you either buy what you can afford or buy what you like. Decision is all up to the buyer.
 

bviktor

Posts: 473   +801
Soooo...a hardware-based RAMdrive controller? Hmm. Wasn't sharing system RAM with onboard GPUs about the worst thing to happen to PCs in the early 2000's?
Can you please elaborate why it was bad and more importantly, what on Earth that has to do with this article?

For the record, integrated GPUs still use system memory (obviously), and they work just fine. For budget SSDs this construct is a nobrainer and I'm surprised it took them this long to come up with a product that uses it.

I'll go further: it'd be awesome if you could adjust just how much RAM you allocate to the SSD's burst buffer. If you have a lot of RAM to waste, your IOPS could go through the roof. Of course, it can be dangerous if you suddenly lose power, because then all that data is lost. I wonder how Samsung deals with that. Maybe we'll see DRAM battery backups eventually, like in RAID controllers? Lol...
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,648   +4,124
Can you please elaborate why it was bad and more importantly, what on Earth that has to do with this article?

For the record, integrated GPUs still use system memory (obviously), and they work just fine. For budget SSDs this construct is a nobrainer and I'm surprised it took them this long to come up with a product that uses it.

I'll go further: it'd be awesome if you could adjust just how much RAM you allocate to the SSD's burst buffer. If you have a lot of RAM to waste, your IOPS could go through the roof. Of course, it can be dangerous if you suddenly lose power, because then all that data is lost. I wonder how Samsung deals with that. Maybe we'll see DRAM battery backups eventually, like in RAID controllers? Lol...
It was bad because the moment VRAM usage spilled into system memory performance tanked. And I dont mean by lowering framerates, I mean by introducing significant frametime lag and pop in issues.

Integrated GPUs "work" with system memory, but their performance is nothing to be jealous of. For SSDs that DRAM is used to cache what is in memory, and the lack of that DRAM is going to introduce more latency and worse random performance. Even if IOPS ratings remain high, adding latency to thise IOPS operations will still introduce noticeable performance problems for end users. Latency is bad, m'kay?
Will this ssd wear down faster? I would be very curious to know how much faster if so.
No, but random read and write performance will both suffer, which will have a greater noticeable impact on user performance. DRAMless SSDs suck arse unless you are loading plain windows with a single chrome tab on an all text web page.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 936   +1,728
If performance of the drive is fast enough that it needs dedicated RAM, but you're off loading that to the system and the already limited bandwidth and frequencies, wouldn't you just be better off with a slower drive anyway vs a fastest-of-the-fast drive that would introduce it's own latency by borrowing RAM from your rig?

It's certainly interesting as proof of concept but it truly feels very uncooked: I rather let this tech mature more I can live with a "normal" nvme pci-e 4.0 speed (Or even 3.0) of today.
 

Danny101

Posts: 1,827   +790
Hard drives have dedicated ram. There's always been a reason for it. Samsung should leave it well enough alone and go with what we already know that works. Did they really R&D this or was it decided by bean counters?
 
I'm not impressed with this move from a quality standpoint. Unlike local DRAM on the m.2 PCB, Samsung no longer has control of the DRAM specs. So instead of testing against a fixed configuration (or small QVL list), they need to verify against a large number of chips (vendor, speed, latencies, timings, etc.).

Likewise, now instead of being on a local bus that the SSD controller has priority (I.e., singular) access to, you're hopping through PCIe with bus arbitration and competition with other peripherals. This adds a level of non-deterministic behavior for something that's performing a rather important and unforgiving task (data storage).

Maybe this doesn't make a big enough difference for performance, but it will be interesting to watch whether these drives have reliability issues over time (or in certain configurations). I won't be in any hurry to jump on these drives, that's for sure.
 

OortCloud

Posts: 637   +506
If it produces say 50% cheaper nvme drives with say 50% full-fat-nvme-drive speeds then its a win, if it's doesn't it's not and people won't buy them. I have plenty of spare RAM so giving a few gigs up to an nvme drive wouldn't bother me. It just needs to work and be cost-effective. It's about time mechanical drives went away maybe these RAM-hybrids might usher that in?
Lets wait and see...

EDITED: Just noticed the paragraph below the picture - they are plenty quick enough if those specs are true, and the MSRP is $120 for 1TB. The MSRP for a slower 970 EVO is $180, so I will wait for reviews and benchmarks. Worries would be that accessing system memory during disk reads may cause bottlenecks, but lets see...
 
Last edited:

jpuroila

Posts: 372   +224
At this point I would just recommend ignoring any SSDs Samsung releases unless they go on sale. They consistently fail to offer attractive price/performance on a very competitive market.
 

mattferg

Posts: 180   +173
Soooo...a hardware-based RAMdrive controller? Hmm. Wasn't sharing system RAM with onboard GPUs about the worst thing to happen to PCs in the early 2000's?

Considering the Apple M1 does this, as well as Intel Xe laptops and every games console - no.
 

Bobbydpue

Posts: 218   +145
People already complain about their browsers using too much RAM so this will probably fly like a Led Zeppelin. You'd be surprised how many people are still running with less than 8GB of RAM and some of those PCs have IGPs that take another 1.5GB-2GB from that.

511il6.jpg

People who have less than 8GB of RAM shouldn't be upgrading to a 980 NMVE drive before upgrading their RAM and/or Laptop.
 

Avro Arrow

Posts: 1,718   +2,024
TechSpot Elite
Just to be clear, Samsung dont make hard drives anymore. They got rid of that and only focus on SSDs and newer tech.
They were never known for storage drives like WD until SSDs became mainstream. They became the best or one of the best at it. WD didnt have great SSDs in the beginning but do now and also now own SanDisk another good storage company.

While no one likes over paying for anything, there are other companies that you can by online from Amazon who arent known like Samsung but have a good track record. In todays world you either buy what you can afford or buy what you like. Decision is all up to the buyer.
Yes, it is the choice of the buyer and that's why I don't think that this will be all that popular. I don't believe that the Samsung brand is strong enough to get people to pay more than they would for Western Digital (and that's for people who don't know better). People like us, who do know better, who do know that RAM (in all its forms) comes from Samsung, Hynix or Micron and is therefore a commodity regardless of brand will for the most part ignore it completely.

I would expect that the masses would choose the Western Digital and we would choose the XPG because techies tend to buy based on spec and price, not on brand. I'm only using those examples because I found them quickly, there are of course a crap-tonne of SSD brands out there like Intel, AData, Corsair, Sabrent, etc. to choose from.

Hell, I remember laughing about an SSD that Linus tried out that was some off-off-brand called "Fattydove" (Just the name alone makes me crack up) from China that they got on AliExpress for $20. He seemed certain that it would be terrible but it worked just fine. SSDs aren't rocket science anymore by any means.
 
Last edited:

neeyik

Posts: 1,881   +2,199
Staff member
Hard drives have dedicated ram. There's always been a reason for it. Samsung should leave it well enough alone and go with what we already know that works. Did they really R&D this or was it decided by bean counters?
HDDs need DRAM to cache data and instructions; since the majority are connected via SATA, they don't have the same memory access as NVMe does, using PCI Express. SSDs use an SLC cache in the NAND chips for data caching - any DRAM that's used is for instructions, memory addresses, etc.

DRAM-less SSDs have been around for a few years now, so Samsung is just late to the party. They're not as good as DRAM equipped models, but a DRAM-less TLC should be on par with a QLC with onboard memory.

For those people interested, Anandtech have reviewed the new 980:


Performance sits about where you'd expect it to, but Samsung's pricing is a tad on the high side.
 

PEnnn

Posts: 635   +617
"This cuts down on the cost to manufacture the drive, savings which are passed along to the buyer,"

LOL, I have been reading about falling SSD prices, right here, for at least 3 years now.

As to the new Samsung SSD "passing savings along to the buyer"? Not sure who on your staff believes that fairy tale!!
 

texasrattler

Posts: 1,189   +559
Yes, it is the choice of the buyer and that's why I don't think that this will be all that popular. I don't believe that the Samsung brand is strong enough to get people to pay more than they would for Western Digital (and that's for people who don't know better). People like us, who do know better, who do know that RAM (in all its forms) comes from Samsung, Hynix or Micron and is therefore a commodity regardless of brand will for the most part ignore it completely.

I would expect that the masses would choose the Western Digital and we would choose the XPG because techies tend to buy based on spec and price, not on brand. I'm only using those examples because I found them quickly, there are of course a crap-tonne of SSD brands out there like Intel, AData, Corsair, Sabrent, etc. to choose from.

Hell, I remember laughing about an SSD that Linus tried out that was some off-off-brand called "Fattydove" (Just the name alone makes me crack up) from China that they got on AliExpress for $20. He seemed certain that it would be terrible but it worked just fine. SSDs aren't rocket science anymore by any means.
Samsung sell like water in stores like Best Buy but so WD. Both imo are good. You can find them and plenty of other brands online for cheaper but ppl like buying in stores still.